Turkey’s KAAN fifth-gen fighter jet conducts first test flight: video

Turkish Aerospace Industries

Turkey successfully flight-tested its first fifth-generation fighter jet, named KAAN, on February 21, 2024.  

Under the supervision of Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), the aircraft was piloted by Commander Barbaros Demirbas of the Turkish Air Force.  

This first flight, lasting 11 minutes, reached an altitude of 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) and a speed of 230 knots (425 kilometers per hour). 

What is the TF-X KAAN fighter jet?  

KAAN is slated to be a fifth-generation fighter jet with a low-observability design, the ability to carry weapons inside and outside the fuselage, an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system, supercruise, and advanced data link capabilities. 

The KAAN program aims to modernize the Turkish fighter fleet and enhance national defense capabilities to meet the strategic needs of the Turkish Armed Forces. Development of the TF-X began in 2010 but experienced several interruptions and delays. However, the process accelerated significantly in 2019 after Turkey was excluded from the F-35 program.  

Jet fighter diplomacy 

On July 18, 2019, Turkey’s involvement in the F-35 program was terminated due to a disagreement with the United States over purchasing the Russian S-400 missile system.  

As a result, the Turkish Air Force has been looking for alternative options to upgrade its fighter fleet, including its current F-16 fleet. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has clarified that the country’s approval of Sweden’s NATO inclusion would hinge on the US agreeing to sell it F-16 fighter jets. 

On January 26, 2024, Turkey was allowed to purchase 40 Lockheed Martin F-16 Viper fighter jets and other equipment for around $23 billion.  

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